Switzerland Returns A 2,500-Year-Old Stone Sculpture To Peru

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A carved stone head dating back about 2,500 years that Switzerland returned to Peru – February 8, 2023 – AFP
Switzerland returned a large carved stone head to Peru dating back about 2,500 years and belonging to one of the country’s oldest civilizations, according to what the Swiss Cultural Office announced. The sculpture, which weighs about 200 kilograms, was brought to Switzerland by truck in 2016 from Germany, at the request of a German art dealer.
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The Federal Office of Culture in Switzerland said in a statement that the sculpture had not been properly declared as a cultural asset. It was later confiscated due to “substantiated suspicions” that it had been taken illegally from Peru.

The head of the Federal Office of Culture in Switzerland, Karin Bachmann, presented the ornate stone sculpture of Peruvian Ambassador Luis Alberto Castro Jo, at the customs office of the Basel-Weil am Rhein district, where the piece was found 7 years ago.

After its discovery, specialists at the Swiss Federal Office concluded, after examining the piece, that “the stone head dating back 2,500 years to the time of the pre-Hispanic Chavin civilization (about 1200 to 550 BC) had its original source in present-day Peru,” according to the office’s statement on Wednesday.

“This makes it an important piece of cultural property that should have been declared as such when imported,” the statement added.

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A carved stone head dating back about 2,500 years that Switzerland returned to Peru – February 8, 2023 – AFP

Peru is suffering greatly as a result of the looting and destruction of archaeological sites.

The office said pre-Columbian objects, such as the stone head returned Wednesday, are among the most endangered categories of cultural property in Peru.

Switzerland and Peru are signatories to the 1970 UNESCO Convention, which prohibits the illegal import and export of cultural property.

The two countries also signed a bilateral agreement in 2016 to strengthen their cooperation on this issue.

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